Thursday, October 21, 2004

Dogwood Trails TF shoots marijuana suspect

The Dogwood Trails Narcotics Task Force -- the same task force that busted 72 black people in a single rural county last week, claiming they were all part of a crack distribution network -- now hopes to file kidnapping and attempted capital murder charges on a 22-year old man who fled in his car because he feared arrest for an outstanding marijuana posession warrant. Task force officers shot the driver who fled into the woods and was hunted down with dogs. The attempted capital murder and kidnapping charges are almost assuredly bogus, the kind of thing typically trumped up to penalize suspecs for fleeing. The kidnapping charge stems from having two "unwilling" passengers, though when you're charging the driver with murder it's hard to imagine anyone admitting they were "willing." Certainly no one claims the two were kidnapped before they got in the vehicle.

I'm reminded of the subtitle to Malcolm Gladwell's book, The Tipping Point: "How little things can make a big difference." Here this kid is wanted on a penny-ante marijuana charge, a Class B misdemeanor with a max penalty of six months in jail and likely probation -- and now he could spend the rest of his life in prison for a stupid, juvenile mistake that hurt no one but himself. Talk about a needless drug war casualty.

Meanwhile, it's completely unacceptable police practice to shoot at a car with three unarmed people in it, if that's what happened. The article confusingly claims both that police shot out a tire, that a blown tire caused the driver to wreck, then seems to imply that police didn't shoot until after the car was stopped. This video from this incident gets added to the open records request I'll be filing with this task force on behalf of ACLU of Texas in the near future.

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